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Who Pays for Peace in Africa? 0

Brussels – Who pays for peace and security operations in Africa? This is a question that has kept policy makers and the international peace and security community in Africa busy for a long time.  And it still does. In January 2016, the African Union (AU) appointed a high-level panel headed by Dr. Donald Kaberuka to develop a mechanism of sustainable, predictable and flexible funding for peace and security in Africa, and in particular for peace support operations. Analysis by Sophie Desmidt (ECDPM) and Tarila Marclint Ebiede (University of Leuven).

The Kaberuka Panel deals with familiar challenges. The AU has faced considerable funding challenges since its establishment in 2000. Historically, most of its funding has come from the larger economic power-houses such as Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria and South Africa. Yet, all these states have experienced challenges that have affected their finances and, as a result, their financial contributions to the AU budget has steadily decreased. As a consequence, the AU had to increasingly depend on sources of funding outside the continent, including the United States, the European Union, China, Japan and the World Bank. At the same time, the AU and other regional organisations have also been increasingly recognized by these external donors in ensuring peace and security in Africa.

The problem of funding, especially in the area of peace and security, is not one that will go away soon. While the number of conflicts has decreased over the past years, over half of the world’s conflicts are in Africa. In the short to medium term, the AU will undoubtedly continue to spend the bulk of limited financial resources on peace and security issues. The AU Commission’s projected budget for the next years shows the increasing cost of peace and security on the continent. By 2017, this would add up to over $844m. Yearly, these costs constitute at least 60% of the overall cost of running the African Union Commission.

Increasingly, external actors have footed the peace and security bill. For example, the European Union has set up the African Peace Fund (APF) under the Joint EU-Africa Strategy. Its aim is to support peace and security activities of the African Union and other regional mechanisms, such as the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Since the establishment of the APF in 2007, the EU has spent at least €1.3bn in support of peace and security in Africa. China also made a $100m contribution to AU’s peace and security operations. This is in addition to a $1bn contribution it made to the UN for peace operations in Africa in September 2015.  The United States contributes to peace and security in Africa through different initiatives. The US estimates that it will spend US$110m per year for 3-5 years through its African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership (APRRP), in addition to the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) program that has cost the United States about $241m since 2009. The United States also supports UN and AU peace operations in Africa bilaterally, including for example the regional force combatting the Lord’s Resistance Army.

This dependence on external support for peace and security in Africa has troubled both the AU and its external funders. There is increasing pressure on partners such as the European Union to limit funding and direct resources to pressing challenges at home. African policy makers are equally concerned about ownership and control of peace and security operations in Africa. Financing peace support operations in Africa is also a key element in the dialogue between the United Nations and the AU. In follow up to the UN High Level Implementation Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) report, which recommended to find sustainable funding for peace support operations in Africa, a joint UN-AU review on financing mechanisms is currently underway.

The Kaberuka report builds on earlier proposals outlined by the Obasanjo Panel on Alternative Sources of Financing, which included a proposal on extra taxes on tourism and flight tickets in Africa. The Kaberuka Panel recommended imposing a 0.2% level of imports into Africa, envisaged to raise US$1.2bnn yearly for the AU. Special Envoy Kaberuka’s proposal was generally welcomed by AU member states during the AU Summit in July 2016.

However, there is a need for caution. The politics of implementing this proposal will be a completely different matter, and the modalities to implement the levy remain vague. One way for the AU to get a real buy-in from its member states in this new funding proposal is to ensure that benefits return to all member states. For example, the AU could consider supporting reforms among member states that will make ports competitive and more profitable to attract international imports, and make itself visible in the economic development of AU member states. This sort of exchange between the African Union and its member-states will reduce the tendency of the latter to see their commitment to the African Union budget as a burden. Instead, by providing expert services in those very areas where it seeks to raise funding for its activities, the AU would not simply be seen as a taker, but also as a giver.

If the African Union aims at having its member states pay for its peace and security operations, it should start by being clear about what it gives in return to such financial commitments, in particular concerning those areas where it seeks to raise levies. Besides a concrete return, solidarity among AU member states should also be key. Not all AU member states are directly impacted by conflicts, but funds should be based on the principle of Pan-African cohesion rather than on direct impact. Only by building on states’ solidarity and on advantageous deals for contributing members, can the African Union start developing solid and long-lasting funding mechanisms.

Sophie Desmidt is Policy Officer in the Conflict, Security and Resilience Programme and at the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) and Tarila Marclint Ebiede is PhD researcher at the Centre for Research on Peace and Development at the University of Leuven.

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